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US trade deficit jumps by 22% and for the first time in history exceeds $ 100 billion

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Figures: The U.S. trade deficit jumped 22% in March and for the first time in history exceeded $ 100 billion, reflecting the great appetite of Americans for foreign goods. They are also paying higher prices for oil and other products due to rising inflation.

The trade gap widened to $ 109.8 billion from $ 89.8 billion in the previous month. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal predicted a trade gap of $ 106.7 billion.

Imports in March jumped 10.3% to a record $ 351.5 billion. High inflation, especially oil prices, has added to the value of imports.

Exports rose 5.6% to $ 241.7 billion, also a record.

Big picture: The United States has repeatedly set record trade deficits during the pandemic. Because the U.S. recovered faster than other countries, Americans can afford to buy more imports and they absorb it.

However, the trade deficit takes away from the gross domestic product, the official map of the economy. In the first quarter, GDP fell by 1.4%. mostly because of the huge trade gap.

The United States has had a large trade deficit for years, but it has not affected the economy as a whole. For most other indicators, the United States continues to expand at a steady pace.

Key details: U.S. imports exceeded $ 300 billion last fall, and have now exceeded that figure for five months in a row.

In March, the U.S. imported more oil, cars and consumer goods such as cell phones, clothing, furniture, toys and computers.

The sharp increase in imports since last fall also partly reflects the fact that US ports are more quickly unloading the record lag of cargo ships waiting offshore.

In March, exports of petroleum products, crude oil, fuel oil and natural gas, as well as cars and spare parts increased. The growth of exports is due to rising oil prices.

U.S. exports recovered more slowly than imports during the pandemic, but it also rose to a record high.

Looking ahead: “The current domestic and overseas economic situation can maintain the deficit near record levels and significantly hinder the growth of US GDP,” said American economist Mahir Rashid of Oxford Economics.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones industrial average
DJIA,
-0.02%

and the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.03%

were due to open higher at auction on Wednesday.

An expanded look at the trade deficit, which includes only commodities, warned Wall Street last week of a big increase in March. The full report also includes services such as tourism and entertainment.

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